The Leather Forever exhibition by Hermès is on at The Burlington Garden’s exhibition space in London until the 27th May, GO SEE IT.
Whatever your feelings are for (up-themselves) luxury brands, Hermès is good at making leather stuff and this show is an exciting insight into how to construct a handbag to the highest standards. Not only do you get close to vintage Kelly, Birkin and other handbag stars, you also get to be touchy-feely with the high quality skins the brand uses and watch bags being constructed.
The best bit was watching Nadia (Hermès expert handbag maker) make a Kelly bag right in front of us, the VERY best bit was learning the secret of threading a needle the Hermès way (waxing the thread and using a split thread technique to not need a knot…I know…I would have travelled a long way to learn this). The tools, tool cases, thread spools, silver chunky scissors, lumps of beeswax and sewing methods were a joy to watch if you love sewing and craftsmanship.
Taking photos was banned but I did sneak these two above, on the left it shows some of the skins on display in the first room, where you can marvel over the rich quality of and the right hand picture is a snap of Nadia’s workspace. Things to note include the orange thread reels (SOOO wanted one of those) the leather case enclosing all her wonderful tools.
The exhibition is surprisingly big, allow at least 45 mins if you are going to hover over Nadia’s table for a bit, I took longer because I hung about the vintage bags, knowing this was the closest I was likely to ever get to a real Kelly/ Birkin/ Constance or Verrou. Highlights for me included the clever light projections on the different clasps (neat use of new technology) and the use of smell: the saddle room smelled just like a tack room -all horsey and the long thin laces of leather you had to walk through to get to one section made it feel like you were being swathed in leather perfume.
Something you were allowed to take pictures of was this highly covetable Hermès trimmed Citroen 2CV, complete with leather trimmed steering wheel, dashboard and matching luggage. If the keys had been in it I’d have legged it in it.
Leather Forever is only on until May 27th, at Burlington Gardens, open 10-6.00pm daily, 10-10.00pm Fridays. And it’s free.
If you are unable to go, take a peek at the on-line version of it here not as good but better than nothing.